Edgewood High School and surrounding neighbors at odds over stadium lights

Edgewood High School and surrounding neighbors at odds over stadium lights

Mike Elliott remembers the beginning. Before the turf, before the controversy, back when the Edgewood High School football field was just that: grass and football.

“I remember my senior year sodding this field,” the school’s president said, “so when it came in with the beautiful Astroturf, I certainly felt great pride in that.”

It was great pride seeing his alma mater, and now the school he runs, getting a football field of this caliber. Elliott said it’s one of the safest in town and many members of the community use the new track.

There’s just one problem: no lights, which means no Friday night lights.

“Edgewood has always wanted to play their home football games here, but they haven’t been able to,” he said. “We haven’t had that option without lights.”

It’s something Elliott is hoping to fix. The school has a plan to put in lights, a sound system, and more seating among other upgrades. With new technology, Elliott said the school can do it at minimal disruption to the people who live nearby.

Those people disagree, according to Marc Gartler, a representative for the neighborhood association who acts as a liaison between the school and the association.

“Right now it’s disruptive,” Gartler said. “It’s minorly annoying, but we’re used to it. We’re accustomed to it, and it’s what we thought we had agreed on.”

Gartler said he speaks for a lot of residents when he says they don’t want the lights or the sound or the extra people. His home is already within a fraction of the distance other neighbors of other schools have to deal with at only about 100 feet away.

That makes existing noise disruptive, let alone what would happen Friday nights.

“We’ve seen the sound levels go up. We’ve seen the frequency of uses go up, and we don’t think it should go up anymore,” Gartler said. “We think it would be really bad. Not just those of us that are living across the street or those of us that are a block away, but we really think this would be bad for the broader neighborhood and really for Madison.”

He said the teams have found a way around this for decades, and they can keep doing it.

But the school said this is too many years too long.

“I think we deserve this stadium for the way we approached the solution,” Elliott said, “and our goal is to at some point make it be an asset to the neighborhood.”